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Birkle, Alfons

Albert Birkle Winterlandschaft im Bayrischen Wald

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1900 Berlin Charlottenburg – 1986 Salzburg

Title
“Winter Landscape in the Bavarian Forest”
Time
1929
signed
lower right: “A. Birkle”
Technique
oil on cardboard
Measurements
27¼ × 39½ in

Albert Birkle was born in 1900 in Charlottenburg (part of Berlin since 1920). His maternal grandfather was court painter Gustav Bregenzer. His father Carl Birkle was also a painter. Albert Birkle completed an apprenticeship as a decorative painter in his father’s business and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin from 1918 to 1924. In 1921, Birkle became the youngest member of the Berlin Secession.

He developed an independent style – a religious and socially critical realism, influenced by Expressionism and New Objectivity. His subjects were mainly typical Berlin scenes, portraits (he was often compared to Otto Dix and George Grosz in his portrait painting style), religious scenes and mystical landscapes. Around 1930, the socially critical tendencies in his works became less pronounced and he focused more intensively on atmospheric landscapes.

This landscape view of the Bavarian Forest from 1929 has a surreal, fantastical effect – typical of Birkle’s landscapes – when viewed over a longer period of time. The atmospheric, misty snowfields, rhythmically interspersed with bands of dark woods, the houses sinking into the hills, the slightly distorted landscape – all this evokes the characteristics of a dream image.

Three years after creating this painting, Birkle moved with his family to Salzburg, where he lived and worked until his death in 1986. Above the city, on the slopes of the Gaisberg (Gersbergweg 32), he had a house and studio built according to his wishes. During the Second World War, his art was classified as “degenerate”. In 1946, he was granted Austrian citizenship and specialized in religious glass painting, which brought him numerous commissions (e.g. Bürgerspital Church Salzburg, Ev. Christ Church Salzburg, Parish Church Graz, Maria-Hilf-Church Constance, National Cathedral Washington).

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